21 December 2008

Whose media? Which People--A perceptive article

Here is a perceptive piece in The Hindu, which questions the way India's media--particularly the electronic one-- is functioning.
The angle is not new--can the media be run like any other business?
The answer, says the author, is no.
So what's new?
I think two things are.
One is the sense of detail with which he rips apart the edifice of some of the bad, insensitive professional practices and social pretensions.
Two, after the recent Mumbai attacks and the way both social and media issues are discussed, it brings back into the limelightlarger issues in a deeper way.

11 December 2008

Online news gains in credibility, but not blogs: survey

There is food for thought...though the process is complex, people are increasingly valuing news from online sources. I think there is tremendous implication from this. Like "Indy" record labels in music, there could be "Indy" news labels soon--even if some of them are controversial, opinionated or biased.
Sadly, in the online world, it is not easy to prescribe to anyone what they should read, and people, I suspect, have a bias for a bias (of their kind) in news. However, there is a clear indication that blogs do not carry much credibility as news sources.
Here is the press release from TNS, on a survey that indicates the rise of online news.


Blogs are least reliable among 13 easily accessible information sources


New Delhi/ India, December 11th 2008 — We now trust the information we get from online news to the same degree as news information from TV and information / recommendations from friends. But we have a poor opinion of blogs, ranking them the least trustworthy way of understanding the world around us. These are some of the findings in a new study entitled Digital World, Digital Life, from global market insight group TNS.

Conducted in 16 countries, Digital World, Digital Life examines online behaviour and perspectives around the world. More than 27,000 survey participants were asked to select from 13 sources of information: online news, blogs, Wikipedia, company websites, trade website reviews, user forum reviews, product comparison sites, TV news, paid-for newspapers, free newspapers, company brochures, industry magazines and friends' recommendations. Respondents were asked to rate a variety of information sources on a scale of 1 (don't trust at all) to 10 (trust completely).

On a global basis, four out of ten of respondents (42%) highly trust* good old recommendations from friends. However, a roughly equal number highly trust TV news (41%), online news (40%) and newspapers (39%). Blogs are perceived as inherently less credible, taking the lowest score with only one in ten of respondents (10%) trusting this source. This is noticeably lower than even free newspapers (19%) and company brochures (18%). Other online sources fared well, such as product comparison websites (34%) and expert reviews on trade websites (31%)
* trust highly is based on respondents rating 8, 9 or 10 out of ten
There were quite marked variations in the levels of trust for particular countries. Chinese respondents were the most trusting of all nations on all but one of the information sources discussed. The exception in China is Wikipedia, with only around a quarter (26%) of Chinese respondents seeing Wikipedia as trustworthy. This is in comparison to respondents in Germany, where just over half (52%) say they trust the site. In Germany, Wikipedia scored the highest level of trust among all the 13 information sources identified in the survey.

Three countries – the US, France and Italy – now claim to trust online news more than they do TV news. In the US, the results were 38% trust online vs 33% for TV news, while for France the figures were 28% online vs 24% TV news. In Italy, around four of ten respondents (41%) trust online news and less than a quarter (24%) trust TV news.  Scandanavians surveyed by TNS have the highest level of trust of all in respect to online news, with around half of all respondents in Finland (54%), Sweden (50%), Norway (48%) and Denmark (48%) trusting this medium.

Other highlights include inherent trust in TV news in Finland (78%) and Sweden (59%), while in the UK a strong distrust of traditional newspapers stands out with only 23% saying they trust this information source, a much lower score than online news (40%).

Arno Hummerston, Managing Director, TNS Global Interactive, said: "It's interesting to note how credible online news has become with respondents ranking this roughly equal to TV news or recommendations from friends. The move of traditional media into the online space has ensured that the trust traditional media have long enjoyed has spread across online-only sources too.  But this is tempered by the lack of trust that surrounds blogs, with this online medium right at the bottom of the 13 information sources we identified.  With no real accountability (save for an invitation to post comments), offline engagement or demonstrable credibility, the subjectivity of this online medium ensures a uniform low score in our survey for trustworthiness."

8 December 2008

Realty TV check: Indian broadcasters in mounting losses

So it seems controversy is an expensive thing as well.

Media is a costly business, and like aviation,investors love it for the feel and prestige...money is just a pretension. A lot of funds ( I suspect) take strategic stakes in media companies because it offers a lever of sorts (conspiracy theories, anyone?). Anyway, here is a story on how broadcasters are in a crunch.

How Mumbai 26/11 shaped the future of media in India

Mumbai, 26/11/2008

Terrorists carried sat-phones
Eyewitnesses used Twitter feeds
TV cameras rolled live
Social activists attacked them on blogs
Citizens rallied around Facebook pages

That was the world's first instance of "convergence terrorism" or Terrorism 2.0 as I said.
It is clear that media will never be the same again.
Facebook groups sprung up against Barkha Dutt, India's most familiar English TV news anchorette. And pieces by activist writers like Harini Calamur (like this took on the media.
Here are my brief observations.

1)Media will never be the same again, because Internet activism is acting as a countervailing influence on conventional media. Even if they care only for viewership, and claim publicly that only viewers matter, there will be some influence.

2) There are still a huge number of people out there who believe the role of the media as a noble "watchdog" purveying facts, presenting it responsibly. Who is going to PAY for this journalism? Can these activists subsidise the high cost of the publishing business?

3) Increasingly, social bookmarking and e-mail are emerging as powerful drivers of attention.
Gnani Sankaran's piece
questioning the Taj as Mumbai's icon became quite a rage on the Net.